Emmet McKenna goal finally sparks Tyrone to life as Louth challenge fades
Mickey Harte relieved to see Tyrone progress to second round of All-Ireland senior football championship
Tyrone’s PJ Quinn tackles Louth’s Ryan Burns during Saturday’s All-Ireland senior football championship qualifier at Healy Park, Omagh, Co Tyrone. Photograph: Inpho
Tyrone 2-21 Louth 0-10 In the end, Tyrone ran away with a tie that was finely balanced at the halfway stage. Louth trailed by just two points at half-time, but imploded in the second period at Healy Park.
It was a demoralising end to Louth’s season, but for Tyrone, this may just be the spark that ignites All-Ireland title challenge. Two goals at the start of the second half broke Louth’s spirit, and Aidan O’Rourke’s side offered little resistance as the home side piled on the punishment.
“We were disappointed that we weren’t more in control at half-time on the scoreboard,” said Tyrone manager Mickey Harte. “The longer the game went on and the longer they stayed in touch, then the more it was going to ask questions of us than them.”
Tyrone started off with lively and purposeful movement, Stephen O’Neill hitting the spot with his clever passing, and Darren McCurry knocking over three scores as they raced into a four-points lead inside six minutes. But Louth sensed the opportunity to exploit uncertainty. Andy McDonnell and Ryan Burns were on target, and they created a goal chance when McDonnell sent wing back Adrian Reid in, but he sent his angled shot just wide at the far post.
Tyrone had their own goal chances, but Ciarán McGinley and Emmet McKenna lacked the composure to complete the deal. Nevertheless, they stretched the lead to five, with Connor McAliskey vindicating his recall with a couple of neat scores, and Colm Cavanagh driving the effort with a typically selfless input at midfield. Brian White swept over a couple of long-range frees, and at the break, just a point separated the sides.
But the home side exploded into the second half, McKenna smashing home a goal from Peter Harte’s assist after 15 seconds, and it was Mattie Donnelly who pushed forward to cross for O’Neill to palm to the net from close range five minutes later.
McCurry finished with six points, goalkeeper Niall Morgan floated over four long range frees, Seán Cavanagh brought his tally to five, and McAliskey nailed his fourth. They should have had a fourth goal when Plunkett Kane set one on a plate for Shay McGuigan, but the debutant hammered his shot against the crossbar from three yards. TYRONE: N Morgan (0-4, three frees, one 45), A McCrory, R McNamee, PJ Quinn, R McNabb, M Donnelly, P Harte, C Cavanagh, S Cavanagh (0-5, four frees), E McKenna (1-1), S McGuigan, C McGinley (0-1), D McCurry (0-6, three frees), S O’Neill (1-0), C McAliskey (0-4). Subs: Joe McMahon for C Cavanagh (53 mins), P Kane for O’Neill (53 mins), Justin McMahon for Donnelly (55 mins), M Penrose for McCurry (59 mins), N McKenna for S Cavanagh (66 mins), R McKenna for Quinn (66 mins). LOUTH: N Gallagher: P Rath, D Finnegan, J Bingham, J O’Brien, D Crilly, A Reid, P Keenan, M Fanning, A McDonnell (0-2), B White (0-2, frees), D Maguire, C Judge (0-1), S Lennon, R Burns (0-3, one freef). Subs: C Grimes (0-2) for Lennon (19 mins), D O’Hanlon for Rath (black card, 37 mins), C Rafferty for White (42 mins), J Stewart for O’Brien (blackcard 47 mins, K McLoughlin for McDonnell (63 mins). Referee: M Duffy (Sligo).